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Kesha Rose Sebert (pronounced /kɛʃə/, KESH-ə; born March 1, 1987), better known mononymously as Kesha (stylized as Ke$ha), is an American recording artist. An active musician since 2005, her breakthrough came in early 2009 after appearing on Flo Rida’s number one single “Right Round”. Her debut single, “TiK ToK”, was released in August 2009 and reached number one in five countries and set the female weekly download and total weekly Top 40 Mainstream airplay records in the US. Her debut album, Animal, was released in early 2010 and debuted at number one in the US.
Kesha was born in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, USA to a single parent. Her mother, Pebe Sebert, a singer and songwriter, looked after then infant Kesha onstage while performing. Pebe was struggling financially while supporting Kesha and her older brother, Lagan, at the time and they had to rely on welfare payments and supplemental nutrition assistance to get by. Pebe moved the family to Nashville, Tennessee in 1991 after securing a publishing deal. She often brought Kesha and her brothers, Lagan and Louis, along to recording studios and encouraged Kesha to sing. Pebe also taught Kesha how to write songs and they would often write songs together when she returned home from school.|The Sebert family was featured in an episode of The Simple Life in 2005, as the host family after answering an ad placed in the newspaper. Kesha was already working on her music and giving out demos by then. Academically minded, Kesha would often drive to Belmont University to listen to Cold War history classes after school and achieved near perfect SAT scores. However, she dropped out of Brentwood High School at the age of seventeen, after being convinced by Dr. Luke and Max Martin to return to Los Angeles and pursue a music career. They had come across her demos and were so impressed that they immediately contacted her and began flying her to New York and Los Angeles to record music.
While in Los Angeles, Kesha survived on low income, moonlighting as a waitress and dabbling in telemarketing to make ends meet while furthering her music career in studio and seeing talent scouts. She lived with her alleged father when she first moved there, after being introduced by her mother, and subsequently moved in with a boy in whom she was interested. She later lived in an apartment in Echo Park, then in a shared house in Laurel Canyon while crashing with friends and living in a car at times.
Kesha wanted Prince to produce her music, so she found and snuck into his Beverly Hills home. Once discovered, she was thrown out, but not before she left her demo with Prince, who did not contact her afterwards. She also had the opportunity to sing background for Paris Hilton’s single, “Nothing in This World”, which led to an incident later where she vomited in Hilton’s closet. Kesha co-wrote The Veronicas’ single, “This Love” with Toby Gad, sang background vocals for Britney Spears’ song “Lace and Leather” and appeared in the video for Katy Perry’s single, “I Kissed a Girl”. Her appearance in the video arose due to her being friends with Perry; they met frequently as aspiring pop singers in Los Angeles and shared many musical collaborators.
Kesha gained exposure in the mainstream media in early 2009 after appearing on Flo Rida’s number one single, “Right Round”. The collaboration came about when Kesha was walked into a recording session with Flo Rida and Dr. Luke, who was producing the song; Flo Rida wanted a female voice and Kesha was then suggested for the part by Dr. Luke. Flo Rida liked the end result so much that they did two more songs. She is not credited for her feature on “Right Round” and therefore did not collect any money for the part. She also refused to appear in the video because she knew it would not go with her own image.
Soon after, it was announced that Kesha had signed with RCA Records through Dr. Luke, after being sought after by many major labels, and was working on her debut album. On March 27, 2009, she appeared onstage alongside 3OH!3 at a concert at Avalon Hollywood to perform their duet, “My First Kiss”. She later made her official stage debut at that year’s Lollapalooza as part of the BMI Stage. Her debut single, “TiK ToK”, had been released digitally in the US in early August, and was sent to radio two months later in October. By then, Kesha had co-written the title song for Miley Cyrus’ The Time of Our Lives EP, made appearances on Pitbull and Taio Cruz’s albums, and appeared on the cover of Women’s Wear Daily.
A number one placing in New Zealand for “TiK ToK” gave Kesha her first number one; this was followed by number one positions in Canada, Australia and Norway. It later reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100, the first number one of the decade, and reached top five in several countries. For its second week at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, “Tik Tok” set the female download record and became the second best-selling single in a week, after “Right Round”, for shifting 610,000 copies. At its fifth week at the top, it broke the record for the highest weekly plays on the radio airplay chart.
Kesha later supported Calvin Harris on tour in the UK and toured with Mickey Avalon in the US. She also performed at Madison Square Garden on December 11, 2009 for the Z100 Jingle Ball. She has been announced as one of the acts for the 2010 revival of Lilith Fair and will present at the 52nd Grammy Awards. Her debut album, entitled Animal, was released on January 5, 2010 in the US to mixed reviews from music critics. The album sold 152,000 copies in its first week in the US, debuting at number one. Animal was seven years in the making, and Kesha had accumulated over two hundred songs with fourteen making the final cut.
When asked by Pop Excess, Kesha listed Beck and Queen as her main musical influences. She told RWD Magazine that she draws from rap music and old-school punk as well and credits her older brother with exposing her to groups such as Fugazi, Dinosaur Jr. and the Beastie Boys. Animal utilises Pro Tools and FL Studio and a heavy use of Autotune.
Jon Caramanica of The New York Times proclaimed that Kesha’s rap-singing single, “TiK ToK” represented “the complete and painless assimilation of the white female rapper into pop music” as part of a crop of “white-girl rap” songs released in 2009, calling her a “double threat”. Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times compared this vocal styling to that of L’Trimm and Salt-N-Pepa.
In an interview with Digital Spy, Kesha described her music as irreverent and defended her decision to make pop music for Animal as opposed to “more serious acoustic stuff”, explaining that she wanted to “give people something that brings them joy.” She stated that the title track of the album, which emulates the music of Flaming Lips and Arcade Fire, is the direction she would like to pursue on her next record.
Kesha’s lyrics are based on her life experiences and influenced by the storytelling style of country music. She has expressed interest in releasing a country music album in the future because of her love for the genre. She has expressed frustration at the double standard for the objectification of women in songs; in songs such as “Boots and Boys”, she makes it a point to sing the same way men traditionally sang about women.
Kesha described her dress sense as “garbage-chic” to Entertainment Weekly and named Keith Richards as her fashion inspiration. She told Vibe that comfort was most important to her with her fashion choices. She has been noted for her party girl image and told the Herald Sun that “whether people like me or not I just don’t care.” She went on to say that she was on a “one-woman war against pretension and that she felt people cared too much about how they appeared.|Paul Lester of The Guardian called her “the degenerate Hannah Montana” and stated that “her whole shtick appears to be predicated on the idea that she’s a rebel in American Apparel.” When asked about being a role model, Kesha said that people could look up to her in some aspects, but not everything. “I do think it’s an important thing that happiness and the amount of money you have are mixed. There’s absolutely no correlation, because the happiest times of my entire life have been when I didn’t have $2.”|On the dollar sign in her stage name, Kesha states that she was being ironic, in that she does not believe in placing an emphasis on earning money. It came about after her Flo Rida collaboration achieved success worldwide; and yet she did not receive any money to show for it. When asked about being compared to Lady GaGa and other artists, Kesha said “any time you want to compare me to a successful woman, I’ll totally take that.” She got a dollar sign tattoo on her hand for the same reason. Kesha’s first tattoo was that of an anchor given to her in Cuba.
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